By Chris Dunlavy
For sheer embarrassment, there’s no beating Stroud, the little ref who made a big error of judgement.
Having chalked off Matt Ritchie’s penalty for encroachment during Newcastle’s clash with Burton in April, Stroud should have ordered a retake. Instead – to the bafflement of everybody in St James’ and a confused national TV audience – he awarded a free-kick to the Brewers.
With Rafa Benitez fit to burst, Stroud then compounded his error by spinning angry Newcastle players a ridiculous yarn about Dwight Gayle committing a foul, only to realise his story didn’t stand up.
Shortly after the final whistle, Stroud fessed up. Luckily, Newcastle won, or the Toon could have legitimately demanded the game be replayed. “It’s unforgivable,” said former refs chief Keith Hackett. “We’ve become the laughing stock of referees around the world.”